Top 10 Tips for Readying Documents for CFLE Academic Program Review

by Deborah Gentry, Ed.D., CFLE, NCFR Academic Program Liaison
CFLE Network

Four new members of the CFLE Academic Program Review (APR) Committee will soon begin their terms of service. They are Alice Grimes, Urbana University; Mallory Lucier-Greer, Florida State University; Jennifer Reinke, University of Wisconsin-Stout; and Bethanne Shriner, University of Wisconsin-Stout. These four join ongoing members: Dorothy Berglund, Kristie Chandler, Marty Covey, Janet Crow, Michael Fleming, Clara Gerhardt, Tammy Harpel, Melinda Markham, Tami Moore, and Meeshay Williams-Wheeler. Terms of service for these wonderful volunteers are staggered. As APR liaison, I find their contributions as reviewers, primarily for documents submitted for consideration for first time approval, invaluable. I am appreciative of their readiness to conduct a review, thoroughness, and prompt provision of feedback, suggestions, and recommendations. The review process progresses more smoothly and efficiently for these reviewers and me when submitted documents, particularly syllabi, have been readied with careful attention to key elements. What follows are ten tips for academic program representatives when preparing documents to submit for review, either for first time approval or for approval renewal.

Taking to heart the following 10 tips when readying documents to submit to CFLE academic program reviewers will facilitate their abilities to assess course rigor, currency, depth, breadth, and suitability with regard to content area expectations.

  1. Course objectives and/or learning outcomes are to be student-centered. Rather than describing what the teacher intends to do to deliver instruction, these statements should describe what is expected of the students during the course and/or what they should be able to do once they have completed the course.
  2. Student learning outcomes are to be worded so as to be action-oriented, measurable, and realistic. The action words, typically cognition-based, should suggest a level of rigor that is appropriate to course level (introductory, intermediate, advanced, graduate versus undergraduate). Bloom's Revised Taxonomy for learning outcomes is a resource worth consulting when formulating learning outcome statements.
  3. Student learning outcomes should, in a clear and obvious manner, appear compatible with learning activities and assignments and, in turn, also with means of assessment and evaluation of student performance. The level of rigor of a student learning outcome should match the level of rigor involved in carrying out an assignment and also reflected by the means of assessment.
  4. Learning activities as well as assignments, along with means of assessment of student learning, should be varied, if possible. Reviewers typically express some degree of concern when student learning is measured solely by exams and quizzes.
  5. Textbook and supplemental readings for courses are to be cited fully and properly. Reviewers should not have to search online or in some other way to secure complete information about reading materials, including the copyright date.
  6. Bibliographic information about readings and directions for key learning activities and assignments that are typically shared with students via an alternative delivery platform (e.g., Blackboard, Angel, etc.) rather than being included in a course syllabus, must be transferred to the syllabus as an addendum.
  7. Textbooks, as well as supplemental readings and resources, are to be scholarly and reasonably current. When a good rationale is provided, high quality readings for the layperson and older readings which are considered "classics" can be utilized.
  8. The course calendar or schedule must provide adequate content-oriented detail so that reviewers can determine the degree of compatibility with the coordinating content area. Such detail also helps reviewers to assess how much time is devoted to key topics. For example, a calendar or schedule that simply says "Chapter 7" will be addressed in a given week of the semester is not detailed enough. Reviewers should not have to pull up the table of contents for the textbook online in order to find out what Chapter 7 focuses upon. In such situations, reviewers will likely request an addendum to the syllabus that provides a content outline. The course description section of the syllabus is helpful to reviewers, too.
  9. When naming a document file, such as a syllabus, the name should be as complete as possible. It should include course acronym, number and title. Of course, if this becomes quite lengthy, abbreviation is in order. For example, FS 200 Couple Relationships could become FS 200 Couple Rel.
  10. Though coming up in this list in last place, this tenth tip should not be considered of lesser importance. The narrative of any program submission is to provide valuable insights about the overall program. One aspect that should not be neglected is a description detailing how the CFLE program (once approved) will or continues to be publicized and marketed to students, colleagues, internship site supervisors, employers, parents, and the public.

This list is not all-inclusive. The Handbook for the CFLE Academic Program Review provides considerable guidance to academic program representatives as they prepare documents for review for first time approval or for renewal of previous approved status. As APR liaison, I am always pleased to engage in conversation by email or by phone. I will do my best to answer questions and provide other suggestions that will help the application and review processes to unfold with ease and efficiency.